Earlier this week, I was riding the Brown Line downtown, when I noticed a cell phone laying on a seat across the train from me. We had just departed from Washington and Wells, which is the first stop in the loop, so there had just been an exodus of passengers. Just to be sure that the phone’s owner wasn’t still on the train, I waited a few more minutes before picking it up. When I got off the train at Library, I took the phone to the station’s CTA representative. Here’s an approximation of that conversation:
Me: Excuse me. I just found this phone on the train somebody must have dropped it.
Me: Is there any kind of lost and found?
CTA: You can leave it with me, but they won’t know to look here.
Me: So what should I do with it?
CTA: [Inaudible, then walks away]
Me: Ok, thanks.
With that sound advice, I took the phone to work with me. I was planning to call someone from the address book, but it was pretty early in the morning, so instead I looked for a customer service number. After playing around with the device for a few minutes, I had AT&T customer service on the line. Here’s how that conversation went:
AT&T: Thanks for calling AT&T. What’s the phone number on the account that you’re calling about?
Me: Actually, I don’t know. I found this phone on the train this morning, and I’m trying to get it back to the owner.
AT&T: Oh! Well thanks for that! I’ll look up their home number and leave a message with them. Can you give me your name and number for them to contact you?
I give her the number and she puts me on hold for a minute.
AT&T: I left a message on her answering machine with your name and number. If you want, you can also drop the phone off in any AT&T store, and they will track the owner down and return the phone.
Me: If I don’t hear anything by tomorrow, that’s what I’ll do. Thanks!
AT&T: No, thank you for your help!
To make a longer story short, the phone was reunited with its owner the next morning, and there was much rejoicing. But not about CTA. I know it’s not their main obligation to deal with lost items, but this type of thing must happen every day. I know that if CTA helped me get my phone back, I’d tell everyone around that they’re doing a great job over there. Instead I’m telling you that CTA has no opinion on the matter. AT&T, on the other hand, could have told me to throw the thing away, and then they’d force this person to buy a new phone. Instead, they were very courteous to me, a person who is not even a customer of theirs, and they have mechanisms for customer satisfaction.